purplefluffycat: (Purple Cat)
[personal profile] purplefluffycat
Greetings one and all! Wasn't [livejournal.com profile] hoggywartyxmas wonderful again, this year? I have so enjoyed the stories and artwork I've seen so far, and continue to be thrilled at the ingenuity of the writers and the love brought to oft less-loved characters.

With this post, I also bring new fic! This story - although not long - has been incubating for (literally) years, so it's nice to finally get the chance to polish it up and post. Although Horace/Lily is a pairing that probably has fewer followers than even most rare-pairs(!) it has always made sense to me from canon, and I'm pleased to conclude this little arc.


Title: (Let No Man) Cast Asunder
Author: [livejournal.com profile] purplefluffycat
Pairings: Horace Slughorn/Lily Evans, with background Lily Evans/James Potter
Warnings: Infidelity, canon character death
Genre: Romance, Angst
Rating: NC-17
Words: About 4200
Summary:
"A spring afternoon I discovered a bowl on my desk, just a few inches of clear water in it. Floating on the surface was a flower petal...as I watched, it sank...just before it reached the bottom, it was transformed, into a fish. It was beautiful magic, wondrous to behold. The flower petal had come from Lily, your mother. The day I came downstairs, the day the bowl was empty, was the day your mother....I know why you're here...but I can't help you. It would ruin me."

"You liked her, didn't you?" said Harry Potter to Horace Slughorn, "Lily Evans was one of your favourites." 


Author's Notes: This fic is the third and final in my Horace/Lily sequence (preceded by Something Old, Something New, and The Dangers of Tea), although it should make sense as a stand-alone piece. It is also, tangentially, a staggeringly late contribution to the [livejournal.com profile] hp_unfaithful 'Fabulous No-Pressure Laissez-Faire Challenge' with the prompt, 'Trial and error.'




October 15th, 1981

Horace trembled as he held the letter in his hands; he had long ceased expecting an owl. It was easier that way - trying not to remember; trying not to yearn and hurt; trying not to gaze too much at the sweet little goldfish that Lily had given him out of fun and joy and surprise and fondness in very different times.

He had not heard a thing for months; Horace had worried he had been forgotten altogether. 

Or worse. When he was lying awake at night beneath his plush velvet canopy, Horace was hunted by thoughts that made him turn on the light again, and either eat a whole box of chocolates or practically lose his dinner. The imaginings were too much to bear.

Perhaps though, being forgotten was better than this - the surge of his heart toward his throat and the prickle of sweat across his brow as his eyes traced her neat, cursive script across the page.



October 15th, 1981


Dear Horace,

I hope you are well. I'm sorry that I haven't been in touch recently; as you know, things are difficult. I would very much like it if you were to come to visit me. The feather enclosed will become a portkey tomorrow afternoon at two. James will be away.

Yours,

Lily



Freshly-landed, the owl was scratching at his candelabra for treats. It looked ruffled and scrawny, like a creature that had been trapped indoors for far too long.

He and Lily had barely seen each other since her wedding, over one - gods, nearly two - years ago. -That day when she had slid her arms about his neck and drawn him close, sealing their affair with a kiss even as she married another.

Horace had heard things since - things about danger and hiding and risk - but after a while he had closed his ears to such news; he did not do well with danger. He simply could not stand the idea of her in peril.

Lily and James were in hiding, Albus had said; they had been ever since the child had come along. She had written him a letter at the time, saying that she was fine, but her back was still sore - by Jove, he could empathise with that - that they had christened the boy 'Harry', after one of her uncles, and that she would so have liked to have asked Horace to be the godfather - it was just that James had managed to recruit Sirius first. Horace had read the letter so many times the edges were frayed, and had even parked it under his pillow for a while - before having to explain to his elf what it was doing there, while trying not to let on just how much of a sentimental old fool he actually was.

After that, though, had come silence. 

Horace had drunk, not drunk, not eaten, eaten far too much, been on a wild roundelay of social calls and battened down the hatches, refusing even the merest Floo. Nothing seemed to have helped; not really. At best, he had managed to numb the pain, and when he was awake and tolerably busy, had learned mostly not to dwell on how much he missed her. Indeed, he had convinced himself to condemn his sad, old heart to the dump - and reasoned that his liver and kidneys may as well follow it there in short order. 

Mainly, Horace had trained himself not to wonder if Lily ever thought of him - but then, in the dead of night, all of those dances and dinners and conversations and wonderful nights in his bed came back; his bed that now seemed too cold, too quiet, too empty.

Horace thrummed his fingers on the blotter, that plain little feather twinkling at him from its parchment crib. Now his mind was once again awhirl, and his insides were in the most perfect of knots. He barely noticed dusk falling outside his study, and focussed back to the present only when Nibbly crept in with supper.

*****


October 16th, 1981

Horace never made a conscious decision that he would go. No, he was just carried forward through the next day on the wave of an inevitable, inextricable certainty. It was a simple and profound fact of the world, which he could neither examine nor change.

The portkey sat on his desk, staring at him, filling him with silly questions. Why did Lily want to see me? Surely, because we had always got on so well. It couldn't possibly be because she wanted me again. No, she was married. She has a child, for Merlin's sake... It would be ridiculous to even think-

And yet, for all his rationalising, Horace couldn't quite banish the memory of Lily's lips, hot and hungry against his, the warmth of her skin beneath his hands, and the soft vibration of her laugh as they lay together afterwards.

At the appointed time, Horace felt so nauseous the added effect of Portkey travel was negligable. He landed squarely - right on his feet, he was pleased to note - in the middle of what must have been Lily's living room. It was a sweet and spacious cottage, with mullioned windows and timber beams in the ceiling. A fire was lit. There was a faint smell of baking bread.

In the corner of the room a cradle sat; the infant boy slept happily, unaware of the dangerous times about him.

"How are you, Horace?" Lily's voice came from behind him, through a connecting doorway he had not, at first, noticed. Horace jumped, and craned around, chastening himself for looking so flustered and inelegant. When he saw her, his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth, and his eyes welled.

"Oh, alright... you know. The usual teaching - though I'm getting a bit old for it, these days, might be thinking of retirement, soon-"

"Retirement?" She gave a broad smile, somewhere between fond and mocking. "Ridiculous! You're young, for a wizard."

Horace sighed, and instinctively fiddled in the pocket of his robe. He certainly didn't feel young. Not anymore; not since he lost Lily. "Well, you know me..." he dissembled.

She nodded, perhaps with more passion than expected. "I've missed you, you know."

Lily has missed me? Horace's insides all danced at once, and he squeezed the vial on which his fingers had alighted to stop himself from reacting too much. She is just being polite, he told himself, it would be absurd for an old fool to think anything but. Or, perhaps she has missed me... in a mild, filial sort of way, like a granddaughter. Absolutely nothing to get excited about.

Lily tilted her head, regarding him quizzically. Her hair framed her face in natural flames rather than an artful coiffe, and her eyes sparkled beneath only a lick of make-up. She wore an emerald-green dress that draped deliciously across full breasts and rounded hips. Gods, thought Horace, she looks divine

Lily must have followed his gaze, for she changed her tack. "James thinks I've gotten fat." Her tone was bland, light, guarded.

"What?!" Horace couldn't stop himself. "Utter nonsense, my girl!" It was true that she was curvier than before, but in Horace's eyes that only enhanced her beauty. She looked perfectly womanly; utterly radiant.

"I heard him talking to Sirius over the Floo when he thought I was asleep. Sirius was bragging about some teenager he's shagging, and James said it's not fair to make him listen to that, when he's wife's turned into a whale and he can't leave the house." She said it lightly, with an acerbic edge. If Lily was upset, she was too proud to show it. "He then went into some sort of saintly self-pitying rant about how he understood that witches swelled up all over when they were pregnant, but surely they were supposed to have lost weight a year after the baby was born-"

"-The blighter! The ungrateful little..." Horace shouted before he thought, but then checked himself. "Sorry. I just..."

Lily, however, seemed amused rather than offended at the slight against her husband. Her mouth curved mischievously and she locked her gaze with Horace's in a way that made the breath catch in his throat. "Oh, I'm glad to see a little passion. I was worrying that you might have gone off me." Without breaking eye contact she stalked toward Horace, intentions clear as she became - what felt to him as - impossibly close. Horace was frozen insensible, his heart racing as Lily slipped her hands around his ample sides, beneath his plush outer robes.

"Lily, I..." Words were failing him. This was wrong. She was married. She was a mother for heaven's sake. 

...Yet her closeness was paradise. 

"Yes?" Her tone was husky.

"We mustn't..." Horace said feebly, his breath catching as clever hands began to caress his torso through the thin silk of his robe. "You're...ahhh. And we shouldn't...oh!" He was trying so desperately hard to be honourable, to once again do the right thing, as he had done on her ill-fated wedding day nearly two years before. Yet Lily's confident enthusiasm was the strongest aphrodisiac he had ever known. His blood was starting to veritably scream with need for her, and the old wounds in his heart were opening up once more, guilelessly bleeding for her. He could not deny to himself how much he was truly in love with this fiery young woman.

"Kiss me, Horace," she breathed, and the sound of his name upon her lips was his final undoing. Their mouths met passionately, desperately, just as Horace had dreamed and lamented they might. Lily's tongue quested for his, and Horace's frozen limbs finally came alive to embrace her as Lily pulled at his clothes. By goodness, she felt good. Her buttocks were perfect globes in his hands, and as he held her there, Lily instinctively widened her legs, wanting more.

"When I was in seventh year... I used to have a fantasy, you know." Her words were dark and low, just millimetres from his ear, and Horace could not help but clutch her tighter, feeling her warmth radiate through him, and the devastating tickle of her breath on his neck.

"Oh?"

"Mm-hm. I never told you before, in case you thought I was just young and foolish. But I used to imagine, that in the Potions classroom, after our lesson, you'd ask me to stay behind... and you'd strip me naked and lay me out on one of the long wooden tables."

"Gods, Lily..." 

"And you'd look on, approvingly, continuing to talk and lecture, and I couldn't feel anything but the hard mahogany on my back and the cold dungeon air licking every part of my body, but I'd spread my legs wantonly, twisting and mewling..."

"Oh!" The image was beyond vivid.

"And then, when I was practically begging for it, you'd push your fat fingers inside me - one, then two, then more - and move them faster and faster until I couldn't stand it any longer-"

His grip tightened around her. Horace was becoming harder by the second; it was more exciting and illicit with every word.

"-And later at night, as I lay on my bed in the dormitory, I'd touch myself, pretending it was you..."

If it had been possible for Horace to have felt more overcome than he did already, he would have done, then. He was heady, almost faint, and put his hands on Lily's shoulders to steady himself. "Well it's a good job... I didn't know that at the time." He chuckled, weakly, "I wouldn't have been able to teach anything... at all..."

Lily kissed him again, tender and gentle this time. Then she looked him in the eyes - a grin pulled at her mouth on seeing that her effect was not lost on him after those two years, but there was an underlying seriousness, too.

She broke away, taking a step backward. Lily swallowed hard and regarded Horace with determination. "Well, now that I have your attention..." She smiled again, self-mocking. "Here's what I really wanted to say to you, Horace, when I sent that Portkey: I know you think I'm doing the wrong thing; that I'll regret it later. That I'm just loopy and hormonal and suffering from cabin-fever. 

"Well, the latter two might actually be true - I may well be loopy and hormonal and be sick to death of being locked away here! -But none of that changes the fact that I know exactly what I'm doing; what we're doing. I let you walk away from me because you thought you should. I should have fought for you, but I didn't, and twenty-two months on, I know just how much I miss you and how there's no way that I should have lost you in the first place. Conventional or no, I want you, Horace Slughorn. I love you. Can you love me?"

Horace felt his feet become curiously detached from the floor, but on glancing downward, there was no levitation charm. Moisture seemed to be trailing down his cheeks and pooling in his moustache. He felt overwhelmingly dizzy – and then realised that it was because he had been forgetting to breathe

"Oh gods, Lily. Yes. Of course, yes." Reverently, he took one of her hands, and kissed its back. “’Til death us do part.” He found himself smiling like a goon, but didn’t care – as she was smiling back, and nodding with dewy eyes. Horace once again took in her face and her form – and then all the feeling that had left his body and all of those supressed thoughts and hopes and memories flooded back at once, and he burned with need for her. He dived to kiss her again and she responded fiercely, sealing their pact. Then, Lily darted for her wand and cast a transfiguration spell, turning the lounge sofa into a large, lush bed.

She tore off her robes and pulled at his, in return. Horace thought that he should probably feel self-conscious in his age and his girth, but somehow, with Lily he never had. Instead, he reached out to remove her bra, undoing it with surprising dexterity, and marveled at the wetness of her knickers when she pressed his hand there, greedy and full of intent. The very idea that she should feel that for him was arousing beyond belief, so it was with some difficulty that Lily pulled off his shorts and they collapsed in an entwined heap upon the bed.

Lily stretched out on her back, beckoning him upon her, but Horace paused, rapt for a moment by her nakedness. It was true that she had put on weight since their previous trysts, but she was utterly beautiful - more beautiful even than before, not that Horace could have previously conceived that might be possible. Her breasts were smooth and heavy in his hands, her thighs rounded, soft and inviting, and her stomach curved gently as she lay there before him, womanly and impossible for him not to kiss.

Lily had been a fiery-bright spark of a girl, testing her teeth and dallying with him, stealing his heart. And she still was. -But now, she was also more than that. She was a grown woman, determined in her mind, her intentions and her life. For Horace to presume to make a decision 'for her own good' would clearly be folly - and somehow this made him feel released from guilt, able to purely revel in his profound good fortune.

She must have seen his thoughts at play, and stroked his arm, gently. “It’s ok, Horace. I want this, more than anything.” Then, she smiled wickedly: "So, how about that fantasy, then?" - and just to make the point, she crossed her wrists above her head in faux-submission.

Horace did not need to be asked twice. Her caressed her thighs, marveling at their smoothness and warmth, and allowed his hands to climb them, coming to rest just where they joined.

"Mmmmm!" Lily voiced in impatience.

And then Horace did what she wanted, reaching in to that slick warmth up to the second knuckle, and watching in delight as she arched from the bed, wanting more. "Ahhh, Horace... yes..."

He moved steadily - all the while watching her eyelids flutter close, her little belly rise and fall ever-faster, and feeling her clenching around him, her muscles pulsating with need. It was the most erotic sight in all of his long years.

Horace added a second finger, and curled them slightly, questing for that sweet spot - and he was rewarded as Lily's groans redoubled and she pushed back against him, her thighs splayed ever-wider. He moved faster, his cock throbbing in time with his fingers, yet so rapt by Lily he barely noticed that he had not yet been touched. Her breath came in quick pants; she was surely close.

-But then, to Horace's surprise, Lily pushed his hand away and tumbled them over, her hands all over his sides and chest and stomach. "Well now I know how beautifully you fuck me with your fingers, it's your turn. And then I want to come, but only when you are inside me. I want to feel you, Horace, here with me."

Any semblance of rational thought he might have had was banished to dust by those words, and the power of speech melted too, with the addition of Lily's lips to his skin. She kissed his mouth, his neck, his shoudlers; she lapped at his nipples until he writhed like a schoolgirl, and she sucked at the copious flesh of his belly as if he were the most delicious thing imaginable. Horace didn't care if it would leave marks; indeed, in some corner of his brain not utterly flooded with sensation, he rather hoped she would.

- And then, just when he felt he could not withstand any more, Lily wrapped her sinfully warm lips around his cock, and swallowed deeply. “Aaagh…” He could not help but buck upward from the mattress, clawing ineffectually at the sheets and her hair when Lily swirled her tongue about his tip. “Oh, gods. I’m going to… I can’t help but…”

Taking that as her cue, Lily withdrew – her plump lips glowing as she licked them. Horace was left somewhere between relief and devastation, and took a moment to react to her gentle tugging. “Come and make love to me.” She laid once more on her back, spread-eagled for him.

Horace took a rattling breath, and clambered to his knees. Absurdly, somewhere in the back of his brain, Horace reflected that, all his imperfections aside, he was rather proud of his cock. It was goodly length and - like the rest of him - ample in width. Bright red, hard and leaking, he vowed he would make the very best possible use of it, right then.

"Now, Horace, now!"

Lily was clearly impatient. He inched forward, nestling close to her - but was then, through the fog of lust, struck by a thought. "You are taking the potion at the moment?"

"-Oh, shut up and come to me."

Horace couldn't stand to be asked again. His erection throbbed almost painfully as he knelt there between her legs, and he trembled with the control required to position himself. Then an almighty groan as he slid home, slick and perfect.

The next few minutes - or, perhaps, hours, for all he could tell - passed in a daze. They rutted until his chest heaved with exertion; Lily cried out, full voice splashing about the room, and she pulled him closer and closer toward her, hooking her legs about his back and tugging at his soft sides as if she wanted him so much they could inhabit the very same skin.

When Horace reached his peak, he almost sobbed with it; the physical pleasure was extraordinary, but almost nothing compared with the thought that he and Lily were going to be together. This is for real. For keeps. Only the very beginning. He collasped by her side, head and heart both a-spin, but unable to suppress what he was sure looked the most foolish of grins - a smile that came from the very bottom of his soul, and took in every organ, each inch of skin and every follice, he was so happy.

*****


Later, when they were dressed and had had both a fine laugh and something to eat, Lily glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece and gave Horace a meaningful look. "I'll write."

"Oh. Oh, rightho." He felt as if he had been drenched with cold water. The sober part of his mind, however, knew it was necessary to leave.

As if to quell his look of disappointment, she added, "I meant every word."

Horace nodded, and bent to embrace her once again. "I know."

With a final kiss, he slipped out of the back gate at the bottom of the garden, and appeared on the far side of the Fidelius Cloud in a neat passageway; it was a sensible place from which to apparate home.



November 1st, 1981

When the news broke, everyone was celebrating in the streets. Everyone, that is, apart from Horace, who was physically sick and then unable to stop crying. The Dark Lord gone meant nothing to him if his Lily was gone, too.

No-one came. No-one knew. 

No-one was ever going to know.

Horace felt as if his whole life had just been snuffed out, and yet there he was, still 'living'; a ghost. There was nowhere he could turn. When he had cried so much he was dizzy and dehydrated, it became almost surreal; he wondered whether it was all in his mind - whether he and Lily had ever made a pact at all?

- And then followed a glance at the empty little goldfish bowl, and the sharp mendacity of denial made itself felt. Emotion welled back in, even sicker and blacker than before. 

In all his years, Horace had never endured such pain as this.


November 3rd 1981

On the third day, the messenger came. Horace was unshaven and unslept and had turned away all visitors - but this man was so insistent on his business, he ran out of energy to refuse.

Clothed in plainest black, he was from the Ministry: Department of Mysteries. "This was found in the rubble at Godric's Hollow," the man said, "It's addressed to you."

"Oh?" Horace could barely form the syllable. The messenger nodded curtly and left.

Horace traced Lily's neat, cursive script across the page.

October 30th, 1981




Dear Horace,

I'm so pleased you came.

I shouldn't be too hard on James. There's nothing wrong with him, really. He may be annoying and thoughtless at times, but basically he's a nice boy and he'd give the world for me and Harry. But that's rather the problem - he's a boy. He can't help the fact that he's young and silly and clueless. But I could have known that I wasn't truly going to be happy with him, and I made the wrong choice. I'll have to take full responsibility for my actions and behave decently toward him and his son - but the truth is, when this awful war is all over I'm going to file for divorce. The truth is, I want to be with you.

Maybe these are just the pipe-dreams of a young woman - but if I've learnt anything over the past year it is that concealing the truth doesn't do anyone any favours. I hope you could learn to love Harry as a step-son. I want us to be together, Horace - as a family of four. 

Yup, you read that right: four.

Witches can tell earlier than Muggles, of course; she's two weeks along now, as you can see by the date of this letter. I say 'she' - I'm pretty sure it will be a girl. I thought of calling her 'Horatia' but decided that would sound like someone's great aunt! Do send your ideas of a postcard, as it were...

Joking aside, there it is, in black and white. I'm not sorry it happened and I hope you won't be, either.

With all my love,

Lily



Numbness began at the parchment in Horace hands and made him lose so much sensation, the letter slid from his fingers into the fire. Nothingness radiated through every fibre of his body, pooling at last in his broken, old heart. 

With a desperate, final snap, he battened closed the vaults of memory - that would now, and forever, be too painful to view. 

In a trance, Horace put on his best clothes, and went out for a drink, with everyone else.
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